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Official Review by Patrick Westrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Sitting just 24 miles north of Fort Worth along I-35W is one of NASCAR's newest venues. Even at 20 years old, the $250 million Texas Motor Speedway is still one of the crown jewels on America's most popular racing circuit and has repeatedly been one of the fastest tracks as well. Opened on February 29, 1996, with a seating capacity of 191,122, TMS now hosts two Sprint Cup races a year with one of them being the eighth race in the ten race 'Chase for the Sprint Cup' held every November. Texas Motor Speedway also hosts NASCAR's other tiered racing divisions which include the Camping World Truck Series and the Xfinity Series. Other events at the track include the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Formula DRIFT Competition.
While there have been more recently constructed tracks added to the circuit there is still something magical about seeing a race at one of the fastest tracks on Earth. Ownership at TMS has done a fantastic job at keeping up with the times and offering a quality, affordable product for race fans of all ages.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Like most NASCAR venues, Texas Motor Speedway allows fans to bring in their own food and beverage via coolers and backpacks. All bags must be no larger than 14"x14"X14" however and fans are prohibited from bringing in any glass bottles for obvious reasons.
If you do not bring your own snacks to the race do not fear, TMS has you covered with literally any and every thing your heart desires. All throughout the 3/4 mile-long concourse you can find your normal stadium fare of hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, and cotton candy. However, if you're in Texas you are kind of obligated to 'Go Big or Go Home' when it comes to dietary discretion. A good first stop is for the 'Texas Dog' which is a jumbo hot dog topped with chopped beef and jalapenos all for $6. A giant Nacho Grande complete with chili, salsa and sour cream will run you $8 but would be enough for two normal sized people.
Prices are pretty average compared to other tracks but the variety is what sets Texas apart. Everything from Philly Cheesesteaks, Italian Sausages, Loaded Steak Fries, Chicken-On-A-Stick, Fried Pickles, Jalapeno Poppers, and Funnel Cakes can be found throughout the track. Most items range from $5 (Jalapeno Poppers) up to $12 for specialty items such as Chicken-On-A-Stick and Philly Cheesesteaks.
A few items that are specifically 'Texas' would have to be Jalapeno Lemonade for $5 and the Loaded Tater Twisters which are like potato chips with chili, cheese, onions and jalapenos on them. For $10 the price is a little high but it would feed a small village.
TMS is a Coca-Cola venue and sells fountain drinks for $4, Fresh Lemonade and Iced Tea for $7 and on chilly night races Gourmet Coffee and Hot Chocolate can be found for only $3.
Adult beverages can also be abundantly found on the premises at any given moment. Premium Draft Beer goes for $8 while Domestics are $7. Bloody Mary's and Spiked Lemonade can be bought in a large Souvenir Cup for $13 or a smaller cup for $11.
There are literally hundreds of different choices throughout the track but if you are looking to save some cash we recommend just bringing in your own food and beverage. TMS has done a great job making the track credit card friendly. Most of the concession stands will now accept credit cards as well as cash but there are still a few kiosks that are cash only. ATM's are found all over the track but the lines can still get long during a sold out event so bringing cash with you is always a better option.
With Texas Motor Speedway sitting seven hours from the closest NASCAR venue (Kansas Speedway), fans come from hundreds of miles around to enjoy a weekend at the track. Add to that, TMS sits within an hour's drive to almost 7 million people and you have a recipe for a jammed packed event.
Immediately as you approach the track you get a sense of community from all the parking lots and campgrounds surrounding TMS. With fans dressed in their favorite driver apparel to flags being flown with a favorite car number, Texas Motor Speedway is no different than any other NASCAR track in America. However, the officials at TMS do a great job of adding to the festivities throughout the day for fans of all ages.
Gone are the days of every team bringing their own merchandise hauler for fans to browse. Things run more smoothly as Fanatics, a national retailer, sets up a giant flea market style tented area for fans to do an all-in-one shopping experience. Each driver gets their own garage type area that you can walk through and pick out your items. Then as you go to pay there is another large tent with 40-50 checkout lanes, all open, to push more people through in less time. It really is a giant upgrade to how things used to work and is featured at all tracks now.
TMS also has all the standard vendors outside of the track that will pass out free samples, rides for the kids, and even Meet-And-Great tents with certain sponsors such as Toyota and Chevy set up throughout the morning leading up to race time.
Once you are through the gates, Texas also offers a great ticket package that will allow you to go down in the infield and on Pit Row. This will allow you to watch cars pass through Tech Inspection, get set up on Pit Row, talk with crew members as they get things set up in the pit boxes and even be by the stage for Driver Introductions and the Pre-Race Concert. Most tracks offer something like this now and for an average of $50-$100 it really is worth the extra cash, especially if you are bringing kids or first-time race fans. Being that close to the cars and getting the extra experiences can't be matched in sports.
In the immediate vicinity of the track there is little to nothing to speak of. A few hotels have sprung up over the past couple of years and there is a giant Buc-ees Convenient Store to gas up, ice up and grab a few last minute tailgate items. Other than that there is just giant parking lots and campgrounds, which on race day could be considered a neighborhood in itself. If you are camping for the weekend, we highly suggest making some new friends and sharing racing stories with your new family. The campgrounds are normally where you find your most die-hard race fans and it's safe to say that most know how to throw a good NASCAR tailgate party that would rival anything seen at a college football game.
If, however, you are driving in for just race day we suggest stopping off in nearby Southlake or Grapevine, about 15 minutes east of the track on Highway 114 or take I-35W south to Fort Worth. There you can find all the modern comforts with restaurants, hotels and shopping malls that are commonplace for Metro America.
Other than SEC football fans you will not find a more rabidly obsessed fan base than NASCAR fans. 90% of them are all dressed in their favorite driver apparel and the ones that aren't are supporting the tracks apparel in support of their hometown race tracks. Many reports show that NASCAR attendance has been down over the past few years but so are most sports in America with the TV coverage and it being more economically feasible to watch an event from the comforts of your own home. The fans at Texas however are some of the best in NASCAR. Tickets are not that difficult to come by but on most Sprint Cup races three quarters of the 191,122 seats are sold before race day.
Even after a 6-hour rain delay about half of the fans still remain in attendance which really speaks to the dedication of race fans.
Most tracks on the NASCAR circuit sit in very rural areas and for that reason most are very hard to access. Race day traffic and small towns rarely mix, even if the town sits directly on the Interstate. Texas however, is the exact opposite of that. While the track is still very much in a rural area, the DFW market is totally equipped for major traffic issues. The track sits directly on the corners of Hwy. 114 and I-35W which gives traffic all 4 directions to filter out. 190,000 people can be easily in and out of the track in less than an hour, which is a civil engineering miracle.
TMS also does a great job at positioning signage around the track to let fans know where to park and the amount of parking officials that are there to help out is also very nice for out of town fans. Don't expect for a short walk to the gate however. Even arriving early for an event can still result in a half mile to mile walk in most cases. Wear comfortable shoes and allow yourself plenty of time to get anywhere. Also, please take note of where you parked. The outside of TMS all looks the same, no matter what gate you came out of so please be aware of listed parking areas.
While NASCAR tickets can get a bit pricey, TMS offers pretty fair pricing in terms of other venues. Many times you can get a ticket from a third party site like StubHub for $50 or just be aware of the multiple ticket packages that the TMS box office has available. In many circumstances you can get a ticket, a Pre-Race Pit Pass, race day Headset Scanner and entrance to the Meet-and-Greet areas for $150-$200 a person. It may sound steep but for all of that access there really isn't anything like it in sports. If you just want a regular race ticket, those can range anywhere from $49-$159 depending on where your seating preference is.
When you consider that you can bring your own food and beverage into the track and parking is free, it really is a very affordable sporting event. Just remember to spring for some earplugs or your ride home with friends and family will be a very silent affair due to lack of hearing ability.
Any time a stadium can say they have the 'World's Biggest' whatever it's always a good 'Extra.' When a stadium says they have the 'World's Biggest TV,' well then, go ahead and put it on the board for a 5-star rating! BIG HOSS TV, is located on the backstretch on Texas Motor Speedway and can not only be seen from anywhere inside the track but also from the air as you fly above the track. No, really. It's that big. Manufactured by Panasonic, Big Hoss stands 218 feet wide by 95 feet high and is fully HD compatible. Before the race begins, TMS does a great job of showing driver interviews, the pre-race concert, different areas of the track that not everyone can enjoy and even pre-race analysis from the track announcers. During the race you can see live action, highlights and replays of all the crashes and pit stops from any seat that you have. Even during rain delays, Big Hoss keeps fans entertained with live NFL games and other sporting events while everyone is waiting for the track to dry.
If you are a casual race fan, an experienced Campsite veteran or a racing rookie, Texas Motor Speedway has something for everyone. With easy accessibility, a plethora of VIP experiences, average ticket prices, tons of food options and activities for the kids, it's easy to see why TMS has been a fan favorite since its first race in April of 1997. 20 years has gone by and fans are still flocking to this jewel in the Texas plains. Pack up the cooler, throw on your favorite driver t-shirt and get ready for a great weekend of racing at the Great American Speedway in No Limits, TX!
Member Review by pwdonaldson on Dec 17, 2012
Just north of Fort Worth, Texas sits the 1.5 mile, 191,122-seat “Great American Speedway.” Opened on February 29, 1996, Texas Motor Speedway is home to two NASCAR Sprint Cup races: the Samsung Mobile 500 and the AAA Texas 500 which is the eighth race in the NASCAR Chase. To get the full experience, no visiting fan should plan to attend only the Sprint Cup race. For a real taste for Texas Motor Speedway, be prepared for a weekend full of racing which usually includes the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday night and NASCAR Nationwide Series on Saturday before the Sprint Cup race on Sunday.
Member Review by pderrick on Nov 19, 2013
Texas is definitely one of the more entertaining speedways. Free parking is a plus. Getting in and out of track can be quite a pain though.
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